Survey after survey repeats the message that people are confused about what to eat.
To clear confusion, at least on the fruit and vegetable question, I have reviewed the scientific literature and created an infallible quiz that will tailor your needs for produce. Answer all questions to calculate the minimum number of fruits and veggies you will need for optimum health.
1. Are you alive?
Yes: Eat 1 fruit and 1 vegetable a day.
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No: Don't worry about it.
Everybody benefits from eating fruits and vegetables. Vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber are just a few of the benefits. The USDA recommends half a plate of fruits and vegetables at a meal.
2. Going back a few generations, has anyone in your family tree had diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure?
Yes: Eat 2 vegetables a day.
No: You might be missing info on your ancestors.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is alarming. In 2012 almost 10 percent of the U.S. population had diabetes and if you are over 65, it jumps to one in four people. Thirty one percent of us have hypertension and another 30 percent are pre hypertensive. Potassium in fruits and vegetables is one of the best friends your blood pressure has.
3. Have you ever said to yourself, “I shouldn't be eating this!”
Yes: Eat 1 fruit a day.
Words you will never have to say if the food you are eyeing is a fruit or vegetable.
4. Have you ever been around a pollutant such as automobile exhaust or smog?
Yes: 1 vegetable
No: Keep breathing; you will be.
My favorite detoxing vegetable is the mighty broccoli sprout. Delicious on salads, it has 10 times the sulphoraphane of broccoli. (Sulphoraphane, in lab experiments, has been shown to inhibit cancer and protect the heart). A June 2014 study from China demonstrated that intervention with broccoli sprouts enhances the detoxification of some airborne pollutants.
5. Have you ever made a resolution to make one simple change to improve your health?
Yes: 1 fruit or veggie
No: 1 fruit or veggie
A simple change that provides a great boost.
Add up how many fruit and vegetables you need and then shop, eat and enjoy.
Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.